Carolyn Ebeling will be joining the Hussman School of Journalism and Media as an embedded counselor specifically for students' mental health needs, as of Jan. 16.
The new counselor position was added through UNC's Counseling and Psychological Services, which serves the mental health needs of the University’s students. Both graduate and undergraduate students at Hussman will have access to this new mental health resource.
Ebeling said there are many services that they will be able to provide for the students.
“I'll be providing individual brief therapy, referral services to off campus therapists — when that's necessary and appropriate — and I can connect them to Campus Health, if they're requesting medication management,” Ebeling said. “I can also give all kinds of wellness and mental health resources both at UNC and in the community.”
Ebeling will be able to support students in the journalism school in a way that the other faculty members have not been equipped to manage. Charlie Tuggle, senior associate dean for undergraduate studies, said he is only able to help students so much.
“You guys get stressed about grades and all those things, and they have to come see somebody, and I do what I can, but I'm not a trained counselor,” he said.
Tuggle said that, when emotional issues arise, he and others at the school will now be able to refer students to a trained professional. Ebeling said they feel prepared for this referral process and providing different types of support.
“I would say, personal challenges, academic challenges or something that comes up during the semester like relationship stuff,” they said. “I have been doing a lot of work with the LGBTQ community, family relationships, really anything that comes up in their lives that they feel like they need a resource to just come talk about.”
After the worst of the pandemic, there was a rise in mental health challenges experienced by students. Tuggle said he wants the school to be equipped to manage this issue. He said an experienced and prepared counselor is one way to help Hussman students.
Skye Scoggins, a sophomore at UNC, has been a student of the Hussman school since last fall. She said the staff and faculty create a welcoming and helpful environment.
“In the media school, as far as mental health goes, professors have been so accommodating through the stressful times that have occurred,” she said. “They would push dates or if you needed help on anything, they would be very accommodating.”
Scoggins has friends who have directly gone to professors for help when they were struggling, and their situations have always been understood.
One benefit to having an embedded counselor for just Hussman students is the location, Tuggle said.
“You don't have to go across campus, you can make an appointment with somebody right in the building and that's a bit more convenient,” he said. “You don't have to go through the layers of CAPS to get to somebody, there's someone right there for you, so I think those things will be helpful.”
Ebeling said working directly in Carroll Hall will also allow them to understand the environment and situations experienced by the students.
“It’s really nice to have someone who can understand the culture of the school and kind of some specific issues or challenges that are coming up specifically around the Hussman community,” they said.
As an alum of The Daily Tar Heel, Ebeling feels they will be able to understand issues specific to a journalism setting. And as a counselor, Ebeling wants to create an environment that is welcoming and non-judgmental for all students.
“I really want to create an environment where people feel safe and just to reduce the stigma around reaching out for mental health support," they said. "And of course, I'll be working with students, and I welcome students from all types of backgrounds and identities."
Scoggins said this development of an embedded counselor in Hussman shows the efforts of the school to destigmatize conversations of mental health.
“Mental health was so stigmatized, and it definitely still is, but not to the extent that it used to be and I think the University and everyone wants to help address that stereotype and reverse it,” she said. “They make people feel like it's okay to have mental health issues and that you can go forward, you can get help.”
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